Best Winch Fairlead for Overlanding & Offroading Rigs

winch fairlead

A fairlead is one of the most important off-road recovery equipment, whether you have a winch or a bumper. Its necessity becomes particularly evident when your winch line keeps moving sideways as you're trying to execute an angled pull. The best winch fairlead gives you added safety when you're getting your vehicle (or other stuck vehicles) out, and saves time as well as your winch cable from too much potential damage.

But first...

What is a Winch Fairlead?

In simple terms, a fairlead is a metallic device that guides a line, rope or cable around an object to prevent it from moving sideways. Specifically, a winch fairlead removes lateral strain from the winch and minimizes damage to the cable.

It guides the line around the winch drum for effective spooling to avoid failed recoveries and cable damage (or fraying) while the winch is in use. Furthermore, by eliminating the angle between itself and the winch drum, a winch fairlead also reduces the chances of the line getting stuck.

Most winches come with fairleads and installation hardware as part of their accessories. That said, you might be looking to upgrade your winch with a new fairlead. It's equally likely that you are unsure which fairlead works best for you.

In this article, we'll compare the two types of fairleads and walk you through the three best options for each type to help you find what suits your needs most.

Types of Winch Fairlead

1. Roller Fairleads

As the name suggests, roller fairleads are made up of four rollers- two mounted vertically and the other two mounted horizontally. These four rollers make up a border through which the winch line passes.

Roller fairleads are usually made of steel, making them more common for winches with steel cables. Generally, it's not advisable to use them with synthetic rope. However, you can still run a synthetic cable on a roller fairlead as long as the fairlead does not have sharp edges or scars.

They are typically made up of multiple parts, making them pretty heavy. On the flip side, this means their pins are extremely hard to bend, plus the rollers don't spin at high speeds. Therefore, roller fairleads are significantly less prone to failure.

It's also worth mentioning that roller fairleads tend to stick out about 3.5-4 inches from the mounting surface. That means they don't always offer the best approach angle.

2. Hawse Fairleads

On the other hand, hawse fairleads are usually made from a single piece of cast iron or machined aluminum with no moving parts. As a result, they're considerably smaller and lighter than steel roller fairleads. The lack of moving parts also means low friction and little to no likelihood of the fairlead breaking apart under normal use.

Aluminum hawse fairleads are typically used with synthetic winch cables, dropping the overall weight of the winch by approximately 30-40 pounds. Furthermore, hawse fairleads normally stick out about an inch from the mounting surface, giving you a better approach angle than a roller fairlead.

Hawse fairleads come with different coatings, such as galvanized, powder-coat and polished aluminum. However, a Type III anodized coating is the only one that can potentially last forever on an aluminum fairlead. The others are prone to wear from oxidation or rusting.

Steel Fairleads vs. Aluminum Fairleads

It's pretty straightforward in that material matters. Steel is hard, and aluminum is soft. Therefore, a steel roller fairlead will chew up a synthetic rope, whereas a steel cable will chew up an aluminum hawse fairlead. Ultimately, it boils down to which material suits your needs and is compatible with your winch and accessories.

So. Which Fairlead Works Best for You?

Short answer: It depends on your needs and what you want to do. Each has its pros and cons.

If you want a lightweight yet sturdy setup, you are better off with an aluminum hawse fairlead and a synthetic line. Conversely, if you are looking for heavy-duty winch action, a steel roller fairlead and a steel cable is your best option.

Whatever the case, it would be best to stick to steel roller fairleads for steel cables and aluminum hawse fairleads for synthetic rope.

3 Best Roller Fairleads

1. Champion - 20009 Wire Rope Roller Fairlead

Champion - 20009 Wire Rope Roller Fairlead for 3500-lb. or Less ATV/UTV Winches
  • Smooth – Equipped with stainless steel rollers, this fairlead...
  • Exclusive – Designed for exclusive use with wire winch rope to...
  • Bolt Pattern – A standard 4-7/8-inch (124mm) bolt pattern
  • Versatile – Use this roller fairlead with 3500-lb. or less...
  • Reliable – Champion will back up your purchase with a 1-year...

The Champion-20009 is a smooth roller that's built for ATV/UTV winches with a 3500-pound capacity. Its stainless steel build helps to eliminate binding and is equally effective at tackling angled pulls. The frame comes with a black powder coat.

Image Source: amazon.com

The winch fairlead features the standard 4-7/7 -inch bolt pattern. It only weighs approximately 2 pounds, making it easy to use as well as giving it an exact fit. It's worth pointing out that it works best with a wire winch rope.

To cap it off, this winch fairlead comes backed up by a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Compact
  • Precise fit
  • Solid build with powder-coat finish
  • Affordable
  • One-year warranty

Cons

  • Not ideal for heavy-duty work

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

Image Source: amazon.com

2. Ranger ATV Winch Roller Fairlead 4 -7/8"

Ranger ATV Winch Roller Fairlead 4 7/8" (124MM) Mount for 2000-3500 LBs ATV Winch by Ultranger...
  • ✓ COMPLETELY CNC MACHINED STEEL FRAME. UNMATCHED QUALITY
  • ✓ WILL NOT FRAY OR TANGLE THE WINCH ROPE / CABLE
  • ✓ 4 7/8" INCH (124 MM) BOLT CENTERS FOR 2000-3500 LBS ATV...
  • ✓ CHOICE OF 2 COLOR : RED / BLACK
  • ✓ POWDER COAT FINISH, ZINC COAT ROLLERS

The Ranger ATV Winch Roller Fairlead is a solid, rugged option that you can always count on. Its whole frame is tailored from high-quality CNC machined steel, which also helps avoid tangling the winch cable. More so, it weighs a mere 2.4 pounds.

This roller fairlead is built for 2000-35000 lbs ATV winches, featuring 124mm bolt centers. It's super easy to install, plus the heavy-duty build makes pulling bulky items a piece of cake. It's also resistant to corrosion for a longer lifespan.

It features a powder-coated finish. And unlike most winch fairleads, this one comes with two color options, black and red.

Pros

  • Rust-resistant
  • Easy setup
  • Solid construction
  • Heavy-duty

Cons

  • A bit pricier

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

  • No critical customer reviews

3. YaeKoo 10" Winch Roller Fairlead 4-7/8"

YaeKoo 10" Winch Roller Fairlead - 8000-17500LB for Recovery Off Road Truck Vehicles
  • Fitment: Please check whether this product fits your vehicle...
  • Capacity: 8000 - 17500LB
  • Bolt Pattern:10'' Standard Mount Pattern
  • Space Between Roller:0.8''
  • Dimension: 11.5''(L)x4.4''(W) x3.5''(H)

The YaeKoo 10" is mostly popular for its compatibility; it works with various car brands. However, it would be advisable first to check if it fits your car before buying. That aside, this heavy-duty roller fairlead weighs a considerable 11 pounds, with a capacity of 8000 -17500 pounds.

Image Source: amazon.com

It features the standard 10-inch mounting-bolt pattern. The fairlead is super sharp and feels equally robust, so it'll probably last very long. Unfortunately, it lacks grease fittings, but there's an option to remove its snap rings and grease manually.

On top of its compatibility with different brands, this roller winch fairlead also works well with steel cables and synthetic ropes.

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Sharp rollers that roll smoothly
  • Lined-up bolt holes
  • Compatible with multiple brands

Cons

  • Doesn't include fasteners

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

Image Source: amazon.com

3 Best Hawse Fairleads

1. Ranger UTV Aluminum Hawse Fairlead

Ranger UTV Side by Side Aluminum Hawse Fairlead for 4000-5500 LBs UTV Winch 6" (152.4MM) Mount by...
  • ✓ COMPLETELY CNC MACHINED 6061 BILLET ALUM. UNMATCHED QUALITY
  • ✓ WILL NOT FRAY OR TANGLE THE WINCH ROPE
  • ✓ 6" INCH (152.4 MM) BOLT CENTERS
  • ✓ FOR 4000-5500 LBS UTV WINCHES
  • ✓ ANODISED FINISH

Ranger Ultranger is well known for its quality winches. It's no surprise that the brand also makes one of the best fairleads on the market. The Ranger UTV Aluminum Hawse Fairlead has an outstanding build quality and weighs only 9.6 ounces.

Image Source: amazon.com

It's crafted entirely from CNC machined 661 billet aluminum, making it full immune to tangle and fray on the winch rope. The fairlead is built for 4000 - 5500 lbs UTV winches, with 6-inch bolt centers -equivalent to a 152.4 mm.

With just 2 mounting bolts, this aluminum fairlead is fairly easy to install. It also comes with an anodized finish that looks great. Plus, it's beveled to prevent sharp edges.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Solid quality
  • Anodized finish

Cons

  • Lacks fasteners

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

Image Source: amazon.com

2. 10" Billet Aluminum Hawse Fairlead

10" Billet Aluminum Hawse Fairlead for Synthetic Winch 8000-15000 LBs Rope Cable Lead Guide
  • - Material: High-grade Billet Aluminum;
  • - Comparing with standard style roller fairlead, this winch...
  • - 10" on center fairlead bolt pattern;
  • - Compatible with most winches (load capacity: 8000lbs to...
  • -- Use this Aluminum hawse fairlead with Synthetic winch ropes,...

The 10" Billet Aluminum Hawse Fairlead is made from solid aluminum, making it both robust and rust-resistant. It's built for heavy-duty use, with a capacity of 8000 - 15000 pounds. However, the smooth rounded edge at the front means it's designed for synthetic ropes only.

Image Source: amazon.com

It features the standard bolt pattern with a 10-inch center hole. That means installation is fairly straightforward. Plus, it comes with the mounting hardware needed for most bumpers, so it can work with most winches.

The fairlead's fit and finish are similarly outstanding, especially when you account for its fairly affordable price tag. Plus, it also features a comfortable cradle that makes pulling a breeze.

Pros

  • Rugged and solid build
  • Great performance
  • Easy installation
  • High-quality finish and exact fit

Cons

  • Washers are quite thin

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

Image Source: amazon.com

3. WARN 73850 Hawse Winch Fairlead

Sale
WARN 73850 Hawse Style Winch Fairlead , Black
  • Winches with a 4,000 lb pull capacity or greater
  • Forged from cast iron with a durable black finish
  • For use with wire or synthetic rope
  • Helps with spooling and protects the cable from getting pinched
  • Act as a pivot point for the cable if you need to hook up at an...

If you want a heavy-duty yet affordable winch, this is the best hawse winch fairlead for you. The WARN 73850 is made from cast iron with a heavy black finish. It's made for winches with a 4000-pound capacity or higher.

Image Source: amazon.com

This winch fairlead can work with a synthetic winch rope or wire. Additionally, it's built to help with spooling as well as making sure cables don't get pinched. The winch fairlead can also double as a pivot point for the cable since it hooks up at a slightly unusual angle.

On top of it, it's priced quite reasonably, so you don't have to break the bank to get yourself a solid, heavy-duty hawse fairlead.

Pros

  • Rugged and heavy built
  • Solid black finish
  • Includes plastic bolt covers
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Prone to rust
  • Mounting holes can be larger than bolts

What Customers Liked

Image Source: amazon.com

What Customers Didn't Like

Image Source: amazon.com

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Winch Fairleads -ols

1. What is a fairlead mount?

As the name suggests, it's a metallic bracket used to install winch fairleads.

2. Can you use a winch without a fairlead?

Technically, yes, you can. However, it's not recommended owing to the downsides of using a winch without a fairlead. For instance, your winch line will fall out faster than its expected lifespan. Furthermore, the cable constantly may wind up unevenly.

3. Can you use roller fairleads with a synthetic winch rope?

Again, technically, you can. However, the rollers on the roller fairlead should not have any sharp edges or burr for this to work. These sharp points can easily damage the synthetic winch rope.

It would be best to use an aluminum hawse fairlead with a synthetic winch rope, except in dire circumstances.

4. Can you use a hawse fairlead with steel cable?

It's generally not advisable. Steel is harder than aluminum, so the cable can easily damage the fairlead.

That being said, you can still find special steel hawse fairleads that you can use with a steel cable.

Featured Image Source: unsplash.com